Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Three Questions for Finding My Style

Just before I started thinking about style and how I want my home to look, I got two offers for "Uneeda" furniture. (Uneeda as in "Uneeda chair? I gotta chair you can have.") The first was for a small dining table. I've mentioned in the past that I have an incredibly ugly dining room table. Sadly, this new-to-me lovely little table could not replace the unattractive one in my dining room. My dining room is rather large, and this is a small breakfast nook style table - sharp but not right for that room. Still, I thought I could use it for something else, so I accepted it.

My other Uneeda furniture was a living room set from my sister. It's a couch, love seat, chair, coffee table and side tables. She'll be moving into her new house soon and wanted to get rid of her old stuff and start with something fresh for the new place. So, she offered the set to me. I snapped it up in a heartbeat.

In both of these cases, I didn't think about it all that much before I accepted these gifts. I've always been able to make various pieces work together, and since I didn't have any real plan, I just figured I would accept them and then figure out where it'd go later. Now that I have been working hard on my home, that is going to change. When it comes to new home furnishings, whether I am buying them or whether I am getting them for free, I am going to start asking myself three important questions first...

1.) Does this item fit in with my home plan? As I have mentioned, I am trying to figure out my style when it comes to my home. To help me do this, I'm putting together a three ring binder about what I love. It has photos from magazines, quotes and ideas from designers, and a section on the colors I want in my home. I'll write more in depth on it later, but essentially this notebook is going to be my guide to turning my house into a home. So, the first question I need to ask from now on is, does this work with what I want? Is it the right colors, the right style, the right look for what I want? Do I love it? Even if it is free, I am not going to take something just because I can. If it doesn't work, I am going to learn to say, "no thank you" and let whatever it is go to someone else - hopefully, someone whose style it is, and who will truly love it.

2.) Is it something I can use? This includes all the questions like: Do I have room for it?, Is it functional?, Does it work for my lifestyle?, Will I really use it? For example, a fabulous chair that is completely uncomfortable isn't something I can use. A perfect piece of artwork - that is too big for the wall I want to hang it on, a crystal vase that gathers dust in a box somewhere, candlesticks that let wax drip all over - all these kinds of things are not only unpractical, but they use up space that could be put to better use. My goal is to make sure that whatever comes into my house is something I something I will use.

3.) Can I afford it? This one should be fairly obvious, and it is... when I am sitting at my computer thinking about finance. When I am in the store, however, that is another matter! At the same time though, I put these three questions in this order for a very specific reason. If the answer to the first two questions is yes and the last one is no, that doesn't mean I need to rule it out. It just means that I need to save up and budget for it. The last year has taught me a lot about how to budget!

Now, how would my latest furniture acquisitions have held up? The living room furniture from my sister would have been a firm "Yes" on every question. I had the perfect place in my library. "Library" makes it sound pretty fancy, but the truth is it just a room where I have my tv and books - some people might call it a den. I, however, have wanted a library room since I was a little girl, so that is what I am going to call it, by gum! The only problem with this room is that I didn't have much in the way of seating. I had two chairs which were called "church pews" by those being generous, and "we're not watching movies at your house" by the less subtle. Needless to say, most of my friends found my two chairs less than comfortable! So, my sister's set was perfect. Just as importantly, it is in the colors I like, the style I like and it matches the walls in the room perfectly.

The dining table is another story. The price was certainly right (free), but when I said yes to it, I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with it, and what's more, the color of the wood is far lighter than I would have picked. Fortunately for me, it worked out perfectly. I ended up putting it in the spare bedroom, where I am going to have my home office. I got rid of my falling apart, cheap-o computer desk and replaced it with this lovely table. I've always liked tables as desks - they seem so clean and tidy. (I have all my office "stuff" in a set of rolling wood drawers to the side of it.) I think the reason it works so well is that that room is painted a fairly dark taupe... with white and black splatter paint. No, I did not do it. It was done by one of the former home owners, and I see why they did it. I have a 100+ year old house with plaster walls in that room. Naturally, not a one of them is straight. The texture effect hides a lot of cracks and bubbles and wavy walls. Someday I may repaint it, but in the meantime, the room is pretty dark. The light wood of the table works perfectly in that room. I put it on a black and off white rug I had, and it came together beautifully, the whole room is now a mix of dark taupe, black and tan.

So, in this case, my lack of a plan and the gift of a table worked out perfectly. But now I have a look for the room and so in the future, I will know what else can go in that room... and what can't. Basically, it is a level of simplicity - using just what I love and just what I can use.

I'm very excited about redoing my home this way and truthfully, there is a level of peace that comes with it as well. There is something very relaxing about having a plan and knowing what you want to do - it certainly takes a lot of the stress out of it!

Photo by: pillowhead designs
via flickr

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